While doing research on paleo-osteoarthritis, I came across an essay from the Journal of Cell Science by Martin A. Schwartz titled “The importance of stupidity in scientific research”. It seems to really resonate with me, so it must be true and I must share it. Here’s how it starts:
“I recently saw an old friend for the first time in many years. We had been Ph.D. students at the same time, both studying science, although in different areas. She later dropped out of graduate school, went to Harvard Law School and is now a senior lawyer for a major environmental organization. At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else.”
The rest is here, with a handy pdf for download. It is an excellent description of the line between inspiration and total confusion that I dance around every time I read or write (or do) anthropology. I had the sneaking suspicion but I’m glad someone else agrees it’s quite normal.